A day after its landslide victory in the Kerala assembly polls, the CPI(M) announced on Friday that senior leader Pinarayi Vijayan (72) will be the chief minister, ignoring party veteran VS Achuthanandan.
CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said Pinarayi was elected unanimously and Achuthanandan will support and guide the new government. Though Achuthanandan was also present in the press briefing, he did not speak.
Though Achuthanandan had given enough hints at his CM ambitions, the party finally selected a leader who is 20 years younger to him.
Before the briefing, Yechury met the 92-year-old Achuthanandan, a former CM, and informed him about the mood in the party. In the press meet, Yechury praised Achuthanandan.
“VS led the campaign like a war horse and we got an emphatic win. But considering his age, the party arrived at a decision to elevate Pinarayi. A senior-most Communist VS is like Fidel Castro for us. He will guide the government,” he said.
Fearing a tussle between the two heavyweights, the party did not project a CM candidate before the elections. The strategy paid well and the LDF wrested power from the Congress, winning 91 seats in the 140-member house.
It is learnt that Achuthanandan has taken the decision with a pinch of salt. As the party is apprehensive that the leader may create trouble, it is considering to rehabilitate him with a plum post.
The rivalry between Achuthanandan and Pinarayi dates back to two decades. Both used every opportunity to discredit each other.
When the Lavalin (an agreement with Canadian power giant SNC Lavalin inked while Pinarayi was the power minister) scam surfaced, Achuthanandan emptied his armoury to attack his rival. In 2007, both were suspended from the politburo for indiscipline.
After Achuthanandan stormed out of the party state conference in Alapuzha in 2015, a resolution was passed calling him a “renegade” and criticised him for “indulging in anti-party activities”. Later, Pinarayi had read out the resolution in a press meeting.